The Lady Hurons softball team got a tuneup in preparation for its regional game Saturday. They traveled to Alpena to take on the Wildcats Wednesday (June 6), who will play in a Division 1 regional in Saginaw Saturday. Rogers City had to come away with a lot of confidence as they split a pair with Alpena, losing 3-2 in the first game and winning 17-1 in the second.
Taylor Fleming’s two-run homer plated the only runs for the Hurons in the first game, as Kyrsten Altman took the loss. Alpena won the game on a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
But in the second game, as the temperatures cooled, the Hurons’ bats came alive. Altman’s solo homer got the engine rolling and homers by Taylor Fleming, Kayla Rabeau, Hannah Fleming and Brooke Daniels powered the win. Rabeau socked a grand slam in the eight-run fourth inning. Hannah Fleming followed that with a solo blast, one of four hits she had in the game.
Daniels’ shot over the left field fence ended the game via the mercy rule. Jayna Hance went all four innings allowing one hit to Alpena.
Division 4’s No. 1 ranked team will be traveling to Indian River for a regional semifinal match with Pellston at 10 a.m. Saturday. The other side of the bracket has Inland Lakes (IL) and East Jordan. IL has knocked Rogers City from the state tournament the last three seasons. The games will be played at Indian River’s Cooperation Park, located at 5454 S. Straits Highway in Indian River.
Rogers City won its seventh-straight district last Saturday with muscle and pitching. The Lady Hurons hit a state tournament record nine homers in a 22-0 win over Johannesburg-Lewiston (Joburg) and added a 10th home run in a 14-3 victory over Hillman in the district championship game. Altman and Hance were the winning pitchers, combining for 15 strikeouts.
“Hitting is contagious,” said Huron coach Karl Grambau. “We work really hard on our hitting all year. You don’t ever expect to hit that many home runs…nothing like that.”
It was only the third time the Hurons had played on their home field this season and the four seniors were able to close it out with the coveted team-trophy pose.
“Moving forward in the coming days, we will continue to work on both the mental and physical parts of hitting,” said assistant hitting coach Duane Pitts. “We aren’t worried about hitting home runs at all – just about making good contact, and if we can do that, then good things will happen and things just naturally fall into place.”
IN THE record-setting game, the first five Hurons went down in order. It was the bottom of the order that ignited the offense. Junior catcher Amanda Wirgau blasted a homer with two outs in the second inning. After a tight 3-2 battle with the same Joburg pitcher a few weeks before, the Wirgau-blast released some tension, said Grambau.
The Hurons bottom of the order would scrape for two more. Alissa Bowden walked and Kristin Brege had a bloop-single. With runners on first and third, Bowden came home without a throw when Brege stole second. Linnea Hentkowski’s bloop-single brought Brege home at the Hurons were on their way with a 3-0 lead.
In the third, Rabeau walked and Hannah Fleming hit the first of her two homers to go up 5-0. Errors would get the sixth run in.
The fourth is when the fireworks started to fly. Jordyn Schalk singled and came home on Hance’s triple, who tagged on a pop-up. Hannah Fleming and Taylor Fleming both ripped doubles. Altman brought in a run on a sacrifice fly ahead of Wirgau’s walk. Jazmyn Saile got a base hit, and with two runners on, Cathryn Hart hit a pinch-hit three-run homer. It was her first as a varsity player to make it a commanding 13-0 lead.
In the fifth, Hannah Fleming and Taylor Fleming hit back-to-back homers. With two outs, Saile hit a two-run homer. Hart then came up and hit her second homer of the game.
After a hit-by-pitch, Daniels entered the game and put one over, for her first varsity dinger. Then Rabeau took one out.
There were three back-to-back homers in the historic fifth.
“The girls were so fired up and cheering one another on,” said Grambau.
Altman gave up only one hit and struck out nine in five innings.
In the district final against Hillman, who defeated Posen 16-1 earlier in the day, the Hurons were held off the scoreboard in the first two innings, but broke through in the third with five runs to take a 5-0 lead.
“In the fourth, we caught fire,” said Grambau. Rabeau reached on an error and trotted home on Hannah Fleming’s third homer of the day and Rogers City’s 10th of the day. It was part of a nine-run inning.
It was 14-0 before Hillman scored.
Hance scattered six hits and struck out six to notch the win.